Bishopscourt residents are questioning how a hotel can exist in their quiet neighbourhood.
The Arambrook Boutique Hotel, which opened in October 2018, is off Kirstenbosch Drive. It has eight rooms and 10 parking bays but is on land not zoned for its function, although this is something it is now seeking to remedy with a land-use application.
Residents say the hotel is a source of noise and parking congestion when it hosts functions, and they want to know whether it has a liquor licence.
Resident Terrill Nicolay stays almost directly opposite the Arambrook.
“For the past two years, they caused considerable noise and traffic disturbance in this residential neighbourhood from holding functions such as weddings, with late-night amplified music.”
A function at the hotel last year caused traffic congestion and roads blocked by illegally parked cars, Ms Nicolay said.
Another resident, Ulla Walmisely, also complained about noise from the hotel.
“My house’s entertainment area and two of its bedrooms are about 20 metres from the Arambrook, and the noise prevents us from sleeping and is one reason that hotels are not permitted in residential areas,” she said.
Ms Walmisely said she was concerned about future developments in the area.
“I am deeply concerned that the Arambrook knew that it did not have the zoning necessary to operate, but went ahead anyway, confident that they would get approval,” she said.
Paul Maree, said he had been inconvenienced by functions at the hotel since moving into the neighbourhood with his family last May.
“We communicated the inconvenience caused by their functions via email to Arambrook CEO Amy Bradfield who responded,” he said.
Mr Maree said Ms Bradfield had been very courteous and professional and had readily apologised for the inconvenience, promising to notify him about future functions, but no such warnings had been forthcoming.
Ms Bradfield said they had applied for their business licence in 2018 and had been using a town-planning firm since 2019 to expedite the process.
Many residents have questioned whether there was sufficient public participation before Arambrook was developed.
Ms Bradfield said: “The process is that the City goes out to the public and that’s where the application is at the moment.”
She said it was regrettable there had been noise at a wedding held at the end of February.
“Our policy for weddings and events has always been that we insist that music is quietened and moved inside by 10pm and stopped at midnight,” she said.
The hotel worked with wedding planners and in future would take stringent steps to comply with noise by-laws.
Ms Bradfield said the hotel was in the process of getting a liquor licence, but wedding planners arranged alcohol through an independent contractor or brought their own.
The hotel is on property where a house once stood. The hotel owners have applied to have portion of the plot rezoned from single residential to agricultural, a category that would belatedly regularise the existence of the hotel.
The hotel is also seeking to add another 30 parking bays, for a total of 40.
Ward councillor Elizabeth Brunette said the owners of Arambrook did not have permission to operate a hotel.
“The owners have apparently submitted the required development application to the City, but the planning department is still processing the application for a decision by the Municipal Planning Tribunal.”
The Municipal Planning Tribunal had fined the hotel R100 000 last year for flouting planning regulations, she said.
However, Ms Bradfield said they had managed to have the fine reduced.
Ms Brunette said Arambrook had also not applied to the City for an event permit to host a pop-up event last Thursday.
“The neighbours in the surrounding area complained to me about the noise coming from the property during the day and night,” she said.
Ms Bradfield said they had rented out their venue for the market but had not made money from the traders taking part.
Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, Marian Nieuwoudt said anyone who contravened the City’s Municipal Planning By-law zoning scheme could be summoned to court and possibly fined.
The City was investigating whether the Arambrook had contravened the City’s parking by-laws, she said.
Ms Brunette said the hotel had eight bedrooms but there were frequently more than 16 guests on the premises, and
vehicles parked in Kirstenbosch Drive when the parking lot was full.
Ms Nieuwoudt said residents could cal 021 4807700 to report noise complaints.